It may come as a surprise to you, but the drug cartels in Mexico don’t love Americans. Our political and law enforcement communities have applied constant pressure to stop the manufacture of illegal drugs south of the border and prevent them from being trafficked to the United States. It’s been a long war and it doesn’t look like it’s going to stop any time soon.
Zetas Drug Cartel
Over the July 4th weekend, Americans were advised to be on the lookout in Nuevo Laredo because they may be targeted by the Zetas drug cartel for violence according to intelligence sources. Did Americans heed the warning? Who knows? It’s unlikely the threat of kidnapping, extortion or death would stop resilient Americans from accessing the ultra-cheap bars, restaurants and dental services available in Nuevo Laredo. The police in Nuevo Laredo were similarly unimpressed by the warning; they hadn’t heard of any increased threat against Americans and are always on vigilant lookout for crime and violence. They hadn’t responded to a gun battle or dead body all week – small comfort.
Logically, the cartels would want to keep Nuevo Laredo as violence free as possible. There are four bridges across the border there – violence would lock down the border, preventing the smuggling of precious drug and human cargo out and the flow of weapons and money in. No reason to put a crimp in the money flow, after all. There are many other places Americans could be targeted in Mexico that wouldn’t affect the drug trade logistics.
Drug cartels targeting American law enforcement
The drug cartels have been targeting American law enforcement, including ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and Texas Rangers. Heck, they target their own law enforcement when they can’t bribe them into submission. Mexico isn’t a real safe environment for any Americans right now; the violence in border cities has been heating up the last several years and doesn’t look like it’s going to subside any time soon.
Kids used by cartels to smuggle drugs into U.S.
But the targeting of Americans can take on different guises. In towns where border crossing has become difficult for Mexicans to accomplish, they have resorted to tricking American teenagers as young as twelve-years old into smuggling the drugs across the border under loose fitting clothing. The kids are lured by the promise of riches and fame they see on television and aren’t fully aware of the consequences or the risk to their own lives.
Yuma teens and drug traffickers
Law enforcement in Yuma has seen an increase in this type of smuggling and has started holding mock trials in local schools to highlight the problem and danger, using kids who have been caught up in the crime to connect with those who may have not fallen for the tricks yet. The Border Patrol also started its own initiative called Operation Detour to bring the message home to American teens.
Demand for drugs has never been higher
The most obvious target of the drug cartels is the Americans who buy the drugs. Without a thriving market, there is no profit in bringing drugs across the border. It’s a law of supply and demand though and the demand has never been higher. It’s bad enough that we have Mexican cartels killing citizens and law enforcement personnel of both countries, but we also have a culture of celebrity that continues to glamorize and celebrate drug use.
From the Charlie Sheens of the entertainment world to the musicians celebrating drug use in very public ways, it’s a tough sell to American kids and young adults to stay away from drugs. I’m sure the last thing on these celebrities' minds is, “I want to encourage today’s youth to support illegal drug trafficking with any money they can get their hands on, including their parents”, but that is the message they’re putting across. In a way, there are several industries within our own borders targeting Americans.
The drug cartels are just taking advantage of our own weaknesses.